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The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

In April 21, 2012, after nearly a decade of negotiations, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established. At present (2015) more than 130 countries are members of the platform. IPBES will be the first global mechanism, formally recognized by governments, bringing together information regarding the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, synthesizing information in a policy-relevant manner, and providing analyses of information for decision makers.

Latest News

Third IPBES plenary coming up

During 12-17 January, 2015, the third plenary meeting of IPBES is to be held in Bonn, Germany. The core of the meeting is to follow up on the Work Programme (WP) established in Turkey last year (December 2013). A set of expert groups have been established an initiated the work on several of the deliverables of the WP, including for example scoping of regional/subregional assessments, guidelines for conceptualization of values, and scoping for an assessment on land degradation. This will put the actual work done so far to a formal test and hopefully governments (members) will find it valuable for these activities to continue.

Also on the agenda are a number of formal, but important procedural issues. The plenary will decide on a clearance process for the reports provided by expert groups. This includes a delicate balance of receiving a formal endorsement on the reports by world governments and at the same time maintaining quality and credibility in the knowledge synthesized by the expert groups. On the agenda are also the so called Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (SES). The SES is a core document and process that will guarantee the involvement of organizations like SCB in the work of IPBES.

During the plenary the SCB delegation will provide daily updates on the SCB blogs.

Intersessional period second to third plenary meeting

Call for experts
After the IPBES 2 meeting, two calls for nomination of experts have been announced from IPBES secretariat. In response to these, SCB has made eight nominations to 5 different deliverables. So far three of our nominees have been included in experts groups. However, as these were also nominated by other organizations and governments it is difficult to evaluate to what extent the SCB nominations themselves mattered.

Documents in review
During the time period after IPBES2, documents have been open for review. SCB, through it subcommittee submitted comments on the guidance document for Regional and Subregional Assessments and the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. In preparation for the IPBES 3 plenary relevant documents are considered by the subcommittee and an unofficial position paper is being developed to guide or input during the plenary meeting

SCB internal work
The former “ad-hoc committee” has been transformed into a permanent sub-committee of the global PC. In this process new members of the sub-committee have been selected and is now composed of: Alex Dehgan, Carlos Carroll, Carolyn Lundquist, Eszter Kovacs, Guy Pe’er, Kyle Gracey, Martin Dieterich, Teuta Skorin, Bengt Gunnar Jonsson (head). The members were selected based on their expressed interest and relevance for the sub-committee.

IPBES second plenary

During December 9-14, 2013, the second plenary meeting of IPBES was held in Antalya Turkey. The ambitions were high and the agenda long with many important topics for the government members to decide upon and for observers to comment on. SCB was represented by a delegation of 5, and provided input both directly in the plenary but also in the corridors by voicing our positions to government delegates. Keeping a long story short, IPBES established its first programme of work and hence real work can start. This includes several assessments and studies including: a fast track assessment of pollinators and food production; an assessment of land degradation and restoration; an assessment on invasive alien species; and an analysis of methods on scenarios and modeling as well as methods for valuation of biodiversity.

This is positive, and soon enough will be very relevant for SCB as they will be searching for nominations, but there were also some disappointments and frustrations especially with respect to the suspicious attitude of many countries toward observers and stakeholders and their involvement in the process. To what extent this represents mistrust toward the scientific community remains to be seen, but it surely put down the spirit of some of us. As an example, we still lack a decision on how stakeholders (including SCB) should be involved in IPBES. To move forward with remaining issues the plenary decided that the next meeting, IPBES 3, will be held in January 2015. For SCB the next step is to prove its ability to identify relevant experts for the upcoming working groups, and to help identifying and nominating experts for assessments. These will require involvement of all our sections as well as putting the expert database on test. In the longer term, another potentially important development in IPBES for SCB is the strong demand of many governments to establish regional hubs and national contacts – which, in many countries, do not exist yet. Given SCB’s structure, this means that IPBES could strengthen the regional sections and could also facilitate, and gain from, the establishment of new chapters to strengthen our capacity to engage in a science-policy dialogue at the national level.

SCB & the Establishment of IPBES

The need for a stronger scientific basis for global decisions relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services has been obvious. The work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been hampered by the lack of credible and legitimate knowledge and many has looked with envy to the IPCC as being a role model. Initial discussion was initiated  almost 10 years ago by a French initiative (IMoSEB), while the real negotiations to establishing IPBES began in Malaysia in 2008.  Subsequent negotiations occurred in Kenya in 2009 and the Republic of Korea in 2010.  At the 2010 meeting in Busan, Korea, governments decided that IPBES should be established, what the general focus of its work program should be, and the basic principles for its operation. 

The Busan Outcome was subsequently considered at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly.  Paragraph 19 of the Yemen Resolution requested that UNEP convene a plenary meeting to fully establish and operationalize IPBES at the earliest opportunity. The first session of the plenary on IPBES was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2011.  The second session of the plenary on IPBES occurred in Panama City, Panama, and resulted in the formal establishment of IPBES as an intergovernmental body.

After participating in related consultations for several years, in 2009 SCB established an ad hoc committee focused on the establishment of IPBES.